June 2016 has not been kind to sports legends and famous athletes. Basketball pioneer Pat Summitt and former NFL coach Buddy Ryan passed away today.
Summitt was the head coach for the University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball team for 38 years. She won eight national championships and she has accumulated the most wins (1,098) of any NCAA Basketball coach.
Ryan was a legendary defensive coordinator and head coach for 35 years in the NFL. Some of the most famous defenses ever assembled had Ryan’s fingerprint on it. Whether it was the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan’s defenses made opposing offenses cringe at the start of each snap.
Summitt and Ryan add to the growing list of sports legends that died this month. Other notable athletes were: Gordie Howe or “Mr. Hockey”, Muhammad Ali, and Kimbo Slice.
From the perspective of a 17 year old teenager, a lot of these names are just names to me. However, I was aware of their greatness and the impact they had on the sports world. Even though I have never seen a Muhammad Ali fight, I’ve heard stories about him and how great he really was. I knew that Pat Summitt had the most wins of any NCAA Basketball coach. These names had weight to them and I was conscience of that.
Their impact is still felt today. Buddy Ryan’s sons, Rex and Rob, are both coaching for the Buffalo Bills. The Pat Summitt coaching tree is massive and extends beyond women’s college basketball. Ali was a role model to many aspiring athletes and is arguably one of the most famous athletes of all time.
These figures touched many lives. Whether it was the players they coached or the fans that watched them, their impact will be felt for many generations to come and it is sad to see them go.